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Law

NewsClick Raids: Delhi HC Dismisses Prabir Purkayastha Plea Against Remand

Delhi Police arrested NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarthy on October 3.

By - Ritika Jain | 13 Oct 2023 10:14 AM GMT

Delhi High Court ruled that the Delhi Police remand of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was sustainable since the grounds for arrest were conveyed to him at the time of his arrest. The high court said there were no procedural infirmities while dismissing Purkayastha’s plea challenging the October 3 police remand.

“That apart there is nothing placed on record to demonstrate that the timelines as averred in the petition are factually correct in nature or even to suggest otherwise,” the high court judgment read.

Significantly, the high court further observed that the Supreme Court’s October 3 Pankaj Bansal judgment which made it mandatory to supply grounds of arrest in writing was not applicable in Purkayastha’s case.

Hence, the arguments suggesting “non-furnishing of grounds” of arrest are, similarly, held to be “untenable and is accordingly rejected,” the high court said.

Purkayastha, Editor-in-Chief, NewsClick was arrested along with the news portal’s HR head Amit Chakravarthy on October 3 following allegations that he accepted money to push the pro-China agenda. A Delhi Court on October 4 had remanded the duo to seven days of police custody.

It is pertinent to point out that the police custody that was challenged expired on October 10; since then, the duo has been remanded to judicial custody till October 20.

Though deciding on the plea challenging the police remand, the high court, however, still has to decide on the challenge to the FIR in the case against them.

Delhi High Court on October 9 had reserved its verdict after hearing arguments in detail.

‘Not a penny’ has come from China: Prabir Purkayastha

NewsClick founder and its editor-in-chief Prabir argued that he or NewsClick did not receive a “penny” from China to push any agenda. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Purkayastha, said Delhi Police flouted Supreme judgments by failing to apprise him of the grounds for arrest.

Supreme Court on October 3 ruled that the Enforcement Directorate's arrest of Pankaj Bansal was illegal since they were not supplied with the grounds for arrest. 

Arguing the case, Sibal and senior advocate Dayan Krishnan further submitted how Purkayastha’s fundamental rights were violated as he was not allowed to consult a lawyer of his choice during the remand hearing.

Will challenge Pankaj Bansal judgment: SG Tushar Mehta

Appearing for Delhi Police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Purkayastha was “informed” about the grounds of arrest. Mehta, however, accepted that the grounds were not supplied to the duo. “He was informed about the grounds of arrest and this fact is not disputed. He was not supplied and this is also an admitted fact,” Mehta submitted. 

Mehta further indicated that the Centre was likely to challenge the Supreme Court's Pankaj Bansal judgment.    

Mehta said the allegations against Purkayashta were serious as he allegedly received at least Rs. 75 crores from China to push their agenda thereby compromising the country’s integrity and stability.

It is pertinent to note, that the FIR simply mentions that Purkayastha received “crores of rupees”.